What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
When first developing a product, it can take a lot of time, effort, research, testing, and funding before a product is finalized and ready for the market. After such a large investment, the last thing you want is to discover that consumers don’t want to buy your product or have found major flaws. To avoid finding yourself in this situation, we recommend developing a minimum viable product (MVP) — a basic model of your product that will attract early-adopter customers and give you the opportunity to finesse the final version based on their feedback.
Why is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) so important?
MVPs were introduced by Eric Ries as part of his Lean Startup Methodology — a process that builds businesses and products based on consumer needs rather than developing a product and then hoping it sells.
Having an MVP allows you to learn the maximum amount of information about your customers by using minimum resources and effort, and observing how they respond to the earliest version of your product.
Collecting valuable data about your customers and their feedback gives you the opportunity to make adjustments before launching your final version, eliminating the risk of pouring thousands of hours and dollars into a product that is not desired by consumers.
What are the key characteristics of a Minimum Viable Product?
1. Fast and Cheap
If your MVP takes two years to create and piles of cash to produce, it is not an MVP.
2. Enough features to attract early customers
Your MVP only needs basic features, but at the same time, it needs to have enough features to attract early adopters.
3. The positives of releasing the MVP outweigh the negatives
Releasing an MVP means leads to first customer impressions and it also gives your competitors the chance to see what you’ve developed. The benefits you gain from your MVP such as retrieving valuable customer feedback should outweigh any risks.
4. Your method for submitting customer feedback must be easy and work
The primary purpose of a minimum viable product is to know what customers think about it. You need to create a convenient and easy way for people to send in feedback.
An example is a software company offering a free upgrade of their next released software version to all customers in exchange for submitting their thoughts about your MVP.
When is it good to release a Minimum Viable Product?
Your startup may choose to develop an MVP because you want to:
- Launch a version of your product into the market as quickly as possible.
- Test an idea or feature with real customers before committing to full development.
- Learn what your target market likes, dislikes, and would change about your product.
What are the next steps after developing an MVP?
After releasing an MVP and collecting early adopters’ feedback, you should be able to answer one big question: “Is my product viable?” You will know if a wider audience will purchase your product and if continuing its development should be your next step.
If you discover that customers would not purchase your product due to a lack of interest or having too many flaws, this is not a failure. In fact, your MVP has done its job by avoiding you from spending further time and resources developing your product. You can either go back to the drawing board to develop a different product altogether or keep with the same product but make significant changes.
What is a Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)?
If early adopters of your MVP demonstrate that a larger audience would purchase your product, you can continue product development to create a Minimum Marketable Product (MMP).
A Minimum Marketable Product (sometimes referred to as a Minimum Marketable Release MMR) is a progressed version of your MVP that is ready to be sold to a much larger audience. An MMR is still not the final version of your product and has minimal features, but it is more advanced than an MVP so more people are attracted to buy it.
What is the difference between an MVP and MMP?
A textbook MMP is a solution to a customer problem they are willing to pay for, as opposed to an MVP which may not quite yet hit the mark.
When releasing an MVP, it is early adopters who purchase the product who have a passion for testing out the latest products. When launching an MMP however, you are trying to appeal to a much wider customer base who will have much higher expectations than early adopters.
How will having an MVP benefit my business?
Developing a minimum viable product is beneficial for the long-term success of your business. It sets you up to become a scalable startup, a quality that most startup investors look for when deciding to invest in a business.
As an entrepreneur, it can be exciting to keep developing your product until it reaches your full vision, but starting with an MVP will save you from making large business errors, wasting time on unwanted features, and spending large quantities of money that does not lead to any revenue.